Bridger-Teton National Forest begins implementation of Snake River Headwaters Wild and Scenic Rivers bill

Thirteen rivers and creeks in the headwaters were protected by the Omnibus Public Lands Bill-

Forest staff to implement Snake protections. By The Associated Press. Billings Gazette.

Because the point of the bill is to keep things the way they are, keeping things the way they are doesn’t require a great amount of work to implement. However, there is some.

The bill designated 388 miles of wild, scenic or recreational rivers. The creeks and rivers included are portions of Bailey Creek, Blackrock Creek, Buffalo Fork of Snake River, Crystal Creek, Granite Creek, Gros Ventre River, Hoback River, Lewis, Pacific Creek, Shoal Creek, Snake River, Willow Creek, and Wolf Creek.

The new lands bill has compensation for losses from wolves

Little discussed amendment to bill would pay livestock owners for losses, but also give grants to be proactive and use non-lethal measures-

Livestock operators are always getting new subsidies from the government, but this amendment could be positive because it is more than just paying people for their losses to wolves. It also provides grants to states to use non-lethal methods to prevent losses from happening.  Idaho has pretty much abandoned asking livestock operators from doing anything to prevent losses. Hopefully this amendment will change things.

Lands bill offers wolf-kill money. By The Associated Press.

Tester: Passage of ‘Wolf Kill Bill’ Was Common Sense. Montana Senator says, “… the Wolf Kill Bill isn’t just about repaying ranchers.” By Jon Tester, U.S. Senate, Guest Writer. New West.

Obama signs the omnibus public lands bill

Channels Bush and adds a presidential signing statement-
Updates to 4-2. State specific information added at end of post

There was much rejoicing as the President signed the Omnibus Public Lands Bill, usually and incorrectly called the giant new “wilderness bill.”

It does add 2-million acres to the National Wilderness Preservation System, but it does many other things, including protect 1.2 million acres of the Salt River Range, Wyoming Range, and Commissary Ridge areas in Western Wyoming from oil and gas leasing (and hence drilling). These areas will not be managed as Wilderness, although as a result of the bill, large parts of them will remain roadless. Drilling in these scenic, but unstable, wildlife rich areas would cause immense devastation. They still suffer from excessive livestock grazing.

The bill also designates new Wild and Scenic Rivers, including the first in dry Utah, where building dams on rivers has been a tradition. To win support for the bill, money was provided to study the rebuilding of the Teton Dam in Eastern Idaho, which failed catastrophically in 1976 when it was first being filled after a long fight with conservation groups who predicted it would not hold water. I should note that fighting this dam was my first major conservation issue.

There are 500,000 of new official Wilderness in Idaho and 316 miles of wild and scenic rivers  included in the larger Owyhee Canyonlands bill. This bill has sparked conflict among conservation groups, not because it designates Wilderness, but because it also releases to livestock development a number of roadless areas, plus other provisions. I have heard that the bill did undergo some improvement in the U.S. Senate when it was “cleaned up” by Committee Staff.

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House easily passes the Omnibus Public Lands bill this time

This time under “regular order” the bill passed 285-140

Wilderness Bill Clears the House on Its Second Go-Round. By Mireya Navarri. New York Times. Published: March 26, 2009

Senate Passes Lands Bill One More Time

This time just over half the Republicans voted for it too-

Senate Passes Lands Bill One More Time. By Kate Phillips. New York Times.

The article indicates that this time the House will not reach for the procedural ease of the suspension of the rules procedure. They will consider the bill, I think, under “regular order” and a closed rule (no amendments allowed). This requires only a simple majority to pass. It does takes more time because of the debate allowed.

The NRA is trying to stir up a phoney gun rights issue on the bill, and Democrats don’t want that “poison pill” allowed as an amendment.

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Road Through Alaskan Refuge Wins Senate Backing. Provision, Opposed by Environmentalists, Is Part of Broad Bipartisan Lands Measure. By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer.

Big Public Lands Bill Goes Another Round in the Senate

As expected the new bill easily beat the U.S. Senate filibuster yesterday-

Omnibus bill attached to a new vehicle moved through the Senate filibuster last night by a vote of 73 to 21. Final passage in the Senate will come soon and take it back to the House.

Story in New York Times blog, “The Caucus.” Big Public Lands Bill Goes Another Round. By Kate Phillips

Note that Phillips (or was she quoting Republicans?) when she said the bill was controversial because it moves a lot of land out of private into public lands. These lands are already public lands. Most of measures simply change their management category or rules.

House Votes Down Omnibus Public Lands Bill

Its consideration under the “suspension of the rules” procedure was its downfall. A 2/3 vote is required-

House Votes Down Omnibus Public Lands Bill. House rules requiring a two-thirds vote proved to be its undoing. By Bill Schneider. New West

The vote was 282 in favor and 144 against.

I still don’t know why they didn’t consider the bill under “regular order” and with a “closed rule” (a closed allows no amendments). The Washington Post says regular order is too complicated, but I don’t see how. House Defeats Bill to Protect Wilderness Areas. By Juliet Eilperin. Washington Post Staff Writer.

I think the bill will come up against in the House. It was passed the Senate.

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3/12. Much more on the temporary(?) derailment of the bill.

House Rejects Massive Public Lands Protection Package. ENS
Ill-fated Rocky Mountain National Park bill snagged again. Wilderness designation held up by rules change. Coloradoan.com|
Proposal that would protect public wild lands in Oregon and across the nation loses in the House by two votes. By Charles Pope. Oregonian.
‘Temporary setback’ for Wyoming Range bill. By John Barron. Casper Star Tribune.
Southern Oregon wilderness push hits snag. Public lands bill with proposed Soda Mountain and Copper Salmon areas fails. By Paul Fattig. MailTribune.com
In Colorado: Coffman, Lamborn blasted for vote on wilderness. Aspen Times.

Unlikely Allies Owyhees Initiative unites warring factions

A Model for the Future? What was wrong with a national monument?

Unlikely Allies. Owyhees Initiative unites warring factions. By Deanna Darr. Boise Weekly.

I’ve never been much of an enthusiast for the Owyhee Country because my picture of it is scenic, vertical-walled deep canyons with piles of manure and cheatgrass separating them. With the passage of this “unique Idaho solution,” almost everything will stay the same. Apparently the “model for the future” is more of the past.

What threats to the scenic canyons does the OI’s passage prevent?

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Note: it hasn’t truly passed yet. It must clear the U.S. House of Representatives. It is part of the Omnibus Public Lands bill, about why we have posted a number of articles.

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Photos: Scenic canyons. Big Jacks Creek. Trashed uplands.

Posted in B.L.M., politics, public lands, public lands management. Tags: , . Comments Off on Unlikely Allies Owyhees Initiative unites warring factions

Omnibus Public Lands bill wins final passage in U.S. Senate

House passage is expected next week-

The bill finally passed today. The final vote for passage was 73-21.

While most of the media seem to still think this is just a bill wilderness bill, folks are slowly finding the other stuff. For example, contained in the bill is the “Wolf Livestock Loss Mitigation Act,” authored by U.S. Senators Jon Tester, D-MT and John Barrasso, R-WY.

Some of the media are concentrating on the purely politics part — how Harry Reid stuck it to Tom Coburn.

Massive Public Lands Bill a Bonanza for Sportsmen, but?

Protection of Wyoming and Salt River Range, plus Commissary Ridge from drilling wins praise-

Massive Public Lands Bill a Bonanza for Sportsmen. By Chris Hunt. New West.

But there is more in the bill than protection of certain parcels of land-

If you don’t think about the Owyhee Initiative part of the bill, it seems like a good bill for wildlife; although there are several little discussed provisions. For example, I just got email containing an almost overlooked entire “Title” of the bill. This title creates the “Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Fund,” which could result in a lot of tree cutting and brush clearing on the public lands and adjacent private and state lands, although it looks like the number of projects are legally limited. If this was lifted, this one way a lot of local employment could be created during the recession/depression.

To quote from the bill . . . the purpose of the Title is

“. . . to encourage the collaborative, science-based ecosystem restoration of priority forest landscapes through a process that–
(1) encourages ecological, economic, and social sustainability;
(2) leverages local resources with national and private resources;
(3) facilitates the reduction of wildfire management costs, including through reestablishing natural fire regimes and reducing the risk of uncharacteristic wildfire; and
(4) demonstrates the degree to which–
(A) various ecological restoration techniques–
(i) achieve ecological and watershed health objectives; and
(ii) affect wildfire activity and management costs; and
(B) the use of forest restoration byproducts can offset treatment costs while benefitting local rural economies and improving forest health.”

Here is the text of the entire title s-22-title4-omnibus-public-lands pdf file.

Public Lands bill easily passes the U.S. Senate

The critical vote was 66-12-

The Caucus. New York Times blog. On a Sunday, the Senate Votes Yes on a Lands Bill. By Carl Hulse.

Here is the AP story. Senate boosts wilderness protection across US. By Mathew Daly.

The bill now goes to the House where there should be no challenge unless the bill gets an open rule from the House Rules Committee. An open rule permits amendments. The Rules Committee almost always follows the will of the Speaker. It is “her committee,” so to speak.

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Reaction is coming in.

Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance Cheers. SUWA Statement on Inclusion of Vastly Improved Washington County Public Lands Legislation in Senate Omnibus Lands Package

Federal wilderness protection for California land moves forward. By Richard Simon. LA Times

Senate votes to increase protections for land in Oregon and nationwide. By Charles Pope, The Oregonian

Omnibus public lands bill carries Craig’s water

In October, Ralph commented on Larry Craig dropping his opposition to protecting the Snake River in Wyoming.  A change of heart from an Idaho politician renowned for his anti-environmentalist zeal ?  Not quite.  The bill is lumped with a bunch of bills in the massive Omnibus public lands bill.  The motivation for Craig’s “turnabout” is perhaps made more clear with a blog post Rocky Barker wrote that I missed but is worth posting even a week later.  Craig has slapped onto the bill $3 million for the environmental & economic studies necessary to initiate new dams on the Snake, Boise, and Payette rivers, including the potential to rebuild the historic Teton Dam :

Craig leaves water studies hidden in omnibus billLetter from the West, Rocky Barker

Craig himself put out an editorial in November outlining all the good things he included in the omnibus bill including compensation for ranchers who lose livestock to wolves, more thinning of national forests to reduce wildfire danger and even the Wyoming bill he first opposed. But he left out the authorization of the water feasibility studies.

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Massive Omnibus public lands bill killed by filibuster threat

Senator Coburn (R-OK) threatens filibuster. Reid pulls omnibus public lands bill-

There was a lot of good and bad in this bill, but it is dead; and some of the good areas won’t be around to save in a year or two when this comes up again in some form.

Public lands bill looks dead for year. By Matthew Daly. Associated Press Writer

Over 140 public land measures are now in the Omnibus public lands act

Lame-duck public lands blockbuster legislation expected-

Assuming there is a lame duck session of Congress (very likely), this bill could designate a lot of public land areas “this” or “that.”

53 new measures were added to the omnibus bill on Oct. 31. It is hard to figure out what is in this bill.

Here is an article about it with a focus on Wyoming from today’s (Nov. 3) Jackson Hole News. By Noah Brenner.

Regarding Oregon. Omnibus land act includes wilderness designations. Senate next month will vote on creation of Oregon’s Soda Mountain and Copper Salmon wilderness area. By Paul Fattig. Mail Tribune.

In Colorado, New senator-elect Udall (I’ll call the race) favors adding wilderness acreage to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Reason for the omnibus bill was Senator Coburn’s (R-OK) “holds” on individual measures. Lame-duck will take up Coburn bill. By J. Taylor Rushing. From The Hill.

It may be best to let the omnibus bill die. There are too many half-assed measures like the Idaho Owyhee Canyonlands bill by Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) in it.